The mental load of motherhood is so often overlooked. Plastered with sweet smiles, we push past the invisible load on our shoulders and handle the tasks of the day. But what is this invisible load so many of us are suffering under? Who put it there and how do we lay it aside to better serve our families free from the weight of expectations?
Mamas are expected to do it all.
We handle all the ins and outs of running a home- from cleaning to managing the finances. We manage our children, their schooling, routine, schedule, health, birthday, holiday, and every sleepless night. Not to mention working, gardening, planning, grocery shopping, cleaning, and laundry- so much laundry.
Most of the time no one knows what you did or didn’t get done, but you know.
Beneath an avalanche of to-dos, worry, whispered prayers, and unmet expectations- you buckle under the pressure of the invisible mental load of motherhood.
As modern Mamas, many of us are finding ourselves completely overwhelmed. Drowning in a sea of images on social media portraying healthy meals cooked from scratch in perfectly polished kitchens by well dressed Mamas with well behaved littles.
The reflection in the mirror of the frazzled haired woman with a map of stretch marks across her stomach is both familiar and unrecognizable.
In silence, we fear she is failing.
Beneath a tidal wave of guilt and the soft roar of a shower, tears pool around her feet.
She isn’t who she thought she would be.
Somedays she gets it right and she knows that she is capable of so much more than she produces, but then sickness comes, naps fall short, and life happens. And once again she is buried beneath the extreme weight of expectations.
If this sounds familiar, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and let’s chat! Because I can relate all too well.
I doubt we are the first generation to feel this way.
I’m certain mother after mother (from Eve until now) has tearfully laid her children in bed and crashed into her pillow to reassess the day.
The difference is we flip over in bed hovering our phones inches from our face and stare at the Mama who got it right that day.
Compared with Instagram filters and beautifully staged moments, we fall so, so short.
Heavy Hearts and Restless Minds
This week has been one of those weeks for us.
Snotty noses, skipped nap times, screaming babies, and salads for dinner. And we may have even broke down and had Taco Bell this week too.
Night after night I slump into bed beside my husband and 2 restless co-sleeping babies.
My third trimester body aches and the constant need to pee plague my night.
Coffee tastes like burnt socks right now and every Instagram Mom is absolutely crushing it. Right?
Well I suppose either we are crushing it, or it is crushing us.
There is comfort in knowing this is just a week- a season- a moment of time.
There will be nourishing meals and squeaky clean faucets again someday.
It may even be tomorrow, who knows?
But one thing is certain- the mental load of motherhood is not placed on us by successful Moms, magazines, or even God.
Those expectations we aren’t living up to are our own- and that is the most comforting and horrifying thought.
The Burden of Expectations
Join any homeschooling or homemaking group online and you will see the same story over and over a million different ways- a million times a day. “How do you do it all? How do you get it all done?”
Sure, there is the occasional husband who wonders what his wife does all day when he comes home to a mess and screaming toddlers. But nine times out of ten the person looking at your day and deeming it unproductive and unfruitful is you.
So often if the house is spotless, I reflect on how I failed to spend time with my kids that day.
If there is fresh bread and a well stocked fridge, I didn’t take time to read to them and play outside with them like I should have.
And if nap time fails and I have to sit and cuddle fussy babies all afternoon I reflect on how I am not caring for the home God gave me.
But it isn’t God hounding me out of sleep to tell me how poorly I have done.
It isn’t my husband, and though we like to blame them in this generation- it isn’t even the online “perfect mother” influencer.
It is me.
And if you are resonating with any of this, my guess is- it is you, too.
The weight of our own expectations- this mental load of motherhood- is crushing us.
Our hearts are in the right place. We are seeking to give our absolute best to the husband, the children, the home, and the calling that God has given us.
But He never asked us for perfection.
We placed that burden on ourselves..
So how do we silence that inner voice?
How do we push past this idea that no matter how much we succeed in one thing, we are failing in another?
I often hear this saying, “Just give yourself grace.” I get the sentiment behind it, but in reality I think those words are every bit as unfruitful as telling someone with depression to “just be happy.”
You can’t give yourself what you don’t have.
Grace has one source.
Joy, peace, contentment- they all have one source- and it isn’t you.
The Portion for Today
There is a fountain of grace.
There is a source of realistic expectations- and it isn’t found between the pages of a magazine or a New York Times Best Seller.
It is found at Calvary.
The same place you found that initial grace when you realized you were a sinner in need of a Savior, that’s the same place you find grace for each day.
When Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, He says a very simple sentence that I think all of us need to learn and repeat, myself included, of course.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
Most of us in modern times don’t have to fully rely on God for our next meal.
In America we rarely walk to the kitchen and find the cupboards bare and the fridge desolate. We don’t really know what it means to call out to God moments before mealtime begging Him to make a way for our family to eat that night.
Even if dinner goes awry, we simply call for pizza or take out.
We rarely go to bed hungry unless we simply choose to.
And yet, we still need our daily bread.
Our daily bread- or daily portion- means enough for that day.
Perhaps that portion is real food. But I think for most of us our “daily bread” is the mindset- better yet, the heart set-that we need to face each day.
Do you ever think about the fact that God already knows how your day will go?
Before you lay out your extensive to-do list. Before you realize one of your babes isn’t feeling 100%. And before you hop in the car to go to a grocery pick-up not realizing your husband mistakingly took the van keys to work.
He already knows.
He already knows the portion you need for today.
And He isn’t a God who delivers you slivers of crust when you need a full loaf.
He doesn’t have to apologize at the end of the day for coming up short when you needed something more.
He already knows what you need for this day, and He promises to be that portion, if you will abide in Him.
His Yoke is Easy
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.“-Matthew 11:29-30
I never really knew what that verse meant until I became a mom.
Starting with that first day of Motherhood.
It doesn’t matter in what manner you give birth- it is bloody, all consuming, beautiful, and painful.
You find yourself feeling battered and worn and suddenly this piping hot, precious baby is laid on your chest.
In all your awe and splendor- suddenly you feel the weight of new life.
A yoke is placed upon your shoulders, and a burden is laid on your back.
A new calling.
A new purpose.
The Holy ground of Motherhood.
For a moment, it feels heavy- until you realize you aren’t bearing that weight alone. Even if you don’t have a family of support or a village- you have God.
What He calls us to, He walks us through.
The thing is we may feel crushed beneath the mental load of motherhood for a moment, but we are never crushed beneath the weight of His expectations.
All the new worry over this baby. Their sleep. Their breathing. Did they eat enough? Is their heart formed correctly?
The mental load feels astonishingly heavy, and yet God calls us to lay it at His feet.
All of it.
He has never asked us for perfectly polished sinks or shined floors.
He simply calls us to show up each day- faithful to embrace the work of that day as unto the Lord.
We don’t have to submit our schedules to Him at the end of the day while He rebukes us for the work left unfinished.
Instead He welcomes us- our heavy thoughts, our unmet expectations, our worried hearts, and our fears and failures- to the foot of the cross.
There, His grace is sufficient for us.
And we find perfect rest in His presence.
So What’s on Your To-Do List Today?
Those are all important. Those are all tasks that we can even honor God with.
But what happens if they fall through?
What happens if the car won’t start? Or ends won’t meet? Or the laundry sits in the basket- wrinkled and waiting?
Did you fail God?
Did you fail your family?
Mamas, the mental load of Motherhood is a lot.
But it isn’t our burden to carry.
His yoke is easy, His burden is light.
He is our portion and our source of grace for today.
He doesn’t expect perfection.
Instead He wants your presence.
Present with Him, instant in prayer.
He wants us living out our faith where our children can see.
No matter if you succeed or fail in your own eyes today- His grace is sufficient for you.
Shed the burden you placed upon yourself, and place your life at His feet.
Lay it down, and rest.
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